Let’s rock! Celebrating 50 years of Engineering Geology

Fifty years of Engineering Geology and Geotechnics at the University of Portsmouth is being celebrated at a special event this week.

Former staff and students will join invited speakers and world-renowned experts from academia and industry at a four day conference from 5 to 8 July at the University.

The event is being held in conjunction with the 50 year anniversary of the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, a leading international journal in the field, published by the Geological Society of London (the second oldest learned society in the world).

1970 cohort (l-r) Dick Bennett, Andy Poulsom, John Thompson, AJ Willis, Wesley Lees, Andy Bailey, MJ Kelsey, Malcolm Sibley

1970 cohort (l-r) Dick Bennett, Andy Poulsom, John Thompson, AJ Willis, Wesley Lees, Andy Bailey, MJ Kelsey, Malcolm Sibley

Although primarily celebratory, reflecting on the contributions made by the University and this important scientific journal to the development of the engineering geology and geotechnics profession in the UK and far beyond, the conference will also consider how the profession and academia will change in future years and how practicing engineers can inform and control this change.

Dr Nick Koor, Principal Lecturer in Engineering Geology and Geotechnics and alumnus of the course, said: “Since 1967, over 900 students have graduated from the degree with many now occupying senior management roles in industry and academia. The degree is of national and international importance training geological engineering professionals to fill a widening skills shortage. Our graduates are highly sought after as they have a unique blend of academic and practical skills, which are enhanced by the recently introduced sandwich version of the course.

“I graduated from this degree in 1984 and at that time the founder, Neil Duncan, was still teaching. Neil was an inspirational force – he is still going strong in his 90s and is as sharp as ever. He gave me an excellent start in life and was one of the reasons I joined the University in 2005 to continue his legacy and give something back.”

Dr Gareth Swift, Course Leader of the BEng Engineering Geology and Geotechnics, said: “It’s a huge honour to welcome so many international experts in ground engineering to Portsmouth, especially when so many are graduates from the University.

“It’s important for us to hold these events so that we can continue to provide vocational degree and masters courses that meet the needs of employers as well as the students.”

Day one will focus on rock engineering and the relevance of Eurocode 7 (EC7) to the profession. A day of talks from leading professionals and academics will consider the role of EC7 in the rock engineering design process and will offer an important opportunity for consultants, contractors and academics to contribute to the ongoing revision of this important design code.

Day two will be a celebration of 50 years of the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology with invited review papers being presented by leading practitioners and academics. It will be followed by the conference dinner on the gun deck of HMS Warrior stationed in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.

Day three will celebrate teaching and research in Engineering Geology and Geotechnics in Portsmouth over the past 50 years with invited speakers reflecting on how this unique course has developed and what to expect in the future. Many former students and members of staff will be attending to re-live their memories of the course and the impact it has had on their careers.

A field trip to the iconic landslides of southern Isle of Wight, led by international experts Dr Eddie Bromhead and Professor Andy Gale, will conclude the celebration event.

Dr Andy Gibson, Principal Lecturer in Engineering Geology, said: “Our work at the Centre for Applied Geoscience contributes to smarter construction in roads, railways and cities and seeks to reduce the impact of natural disasters on people living in hazardous areas prone to landslides, floods and earthquakes.

“We are looking forward to showing off our new laboratory and testing facilities. They’ve changed a huge amount over the past five years thanks to significant investment from the University in this area.

“The conference is very much a joint effort between the University, the International Society for Rock Mechanics, the Geological Society of London and our generous industrial sponsors. Although it’s a celebration of the past 50 years, we are very much hoping to shape the future of our industry and profession over future decades.”

For more information about the EG50 Conference, go to: http://www.port.ac.uk/engineering-geology-50-conference/

You can follow updates on the conference on Twitter: @EG50yrs

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